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Börje Fredriksson (1937-1968)


Daniel A
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Well, I don't expect that many other posts in this thread, because I doubt that many of the forum members have heard of, let alone heard, this Swedish tenor player. However, I think there should be a thread dedicated to him anyway, because of his influence on some other Swedish musicians and his obscurity today, even in Sweden. He was tragically under-recorded, having released only one LP during his lifetime. There was one posthumous LP; aside from that there are some airchecks and collector's tapes that I have mostly not heard myself. Apparently disillutioned with the music business, and - I would presume - suffering from depression, he took his own life in 1968.

 

What cast a shadow over his saxophone playing more or less from the start was the recurring judgment that his playing was similar to, or overly influenced by the playing of John Coltrane, something that seem to have hurt Fredriksson greatly. Today, I feel that this "accusation" was somewhat unfair. In a 1963 interview his own comment was: "Not one phrase is stolen".

 

In 1957 at the age of 20 he bought his first saxophone, and was gifted enough to be able to play publically only a year later. Something that would hamper his career and general impact was the inability to find like-mided musicians in Sweden. On the few recordings there are, his bands are often stuck in a hard bop style, or otherwise not really at his level, even though a later association with Bobo Stenson fares a bit better.

 

There is only one clip of Fredriksson on Spotify. Despite the clip info, it seems to have been recorded in April/May 1963. Tellingly, it has had less than 5000 views in nearly five years. Only the last minute of the clip hints at the more atonal approach heard on some live recordings.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yso5RyFzMMs

 

Here are links to the two LPs on Spotify:

 

'Börje Fredriksson' (rec 1966-67) http://open.spotify.com/album/1mXiykbQZBrMa64ixkJeOX
 
A good overveiw of his carreer in Swedish, for those who want to put Google translate on test: http://www.digjazz.se/Artiklar.Borje%20Fredriksson.html
Edited by Daniel A
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Sure, I've definitely heard of him, though have never had the opportunity to acquire his LPs.

I see that there's a reasonably affordable posthumous (1980s) compilation that Dragon put out, as well as the Odeon album that Gunnar Lindqvist assembled.

Thanks for bringing up this unsung hero of Swedish jazz.


Also I see that neither of those LPs will play in my Spotify player. Wonder if it's not licensed outside of Europe?

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Please forgive a non-native English speaker - what would "blowing snakes" mean? :)

Also I see that neither of those LPs will play in my Spotify player. Wonder if it's not licensed outside of Europe?

Ah, that's too bad!

"Blowing snakes" means playing notey, harmonically convoluted lines, typically at a swift tempo and with considerable heat/emotional intensity. It was a phrase used in some quarters in the 1950s. Coltrane in his so-called "sheets of sound" phase (1957-9 -- the "sheets of sound" phrase was coined by Ira Gitler) was definitely "blowing snakes." The "snakes" metaphor perhaps comes from the image of snakes in a pile or basket -- coiled and wriggly. Also, a good many such improvisations were ominous in emotional tone, and snakes tend to be regarded likewise. Also, the phrase IIRC usually was applied to saxophonists.

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  • 2 years later...
  • 3 years later...

Dragon records reissued “Fredriksson Special” on CD in 2016. I’ve only just picked it up. It adds three tracks from 1963 to those on the LP which was issued in 1989. Being a selection of broadcasts is doesn’t appear to duplicate any other recordings. It’s not on the whole as adventurous as “Intervall” but has some excellent moments. Sound quality is more than adequate considering that these broadcasts were documented by fans rather than Swedish radio. Worth hearing 

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The 1992 CD reissue of Intervall adds a long and excellent quintet track featuring a different line up which includes Rolf Ericson and Bobo Stenson. 
 

Additionally Caprice records have issued some other live tracks on a digital only. It’s on Spotify, possibly elsewhere too. I’m a self confessed Borje obsessive... I’ve still to stump up for the Odeon date.

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